Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lame waiter words enrage Frank Bruni

He hates
  • "Enjoy"
  • "Enjoying"
  • "Pardon my reach"
  • Talking to you in the first person (plural): "Do we have any food allergies ..."
  • Talking to you in the third person: "Would madam enjoy ..."
  • "Enjoy"
  • "Perfect."
  • "Excellent choice."
  • "Enjoy"
Not the freshest story idea, but we must read Bruni faithfully, because some day he is going to lose it, in a restaurant, with the violence, and it is going to be awesome.

NY Times: Tonight, Patronizing Language. Enjoy.

Previously: You May Kiss the Chef’s Napkin Ring

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Monday, February 12, 2007

From New York, it's the Restaurant Smackdown Show

The Great Restaurant Snoot Wars are rampaging through Gotham!

Earlier this month Frank Bruni laid down his scalding treatise on mounting restaurant snoot. Or, as Bruni put it, the "unmistakable, unsettling shift in the balance of power between self-regarding restaurants and self-effacing diners" -- "Once they were lucky to have us. Now we’re lucky to have them."

Now someone at the Old Town Bar in New York, once part of the opening credits for the David Letterman show, has posted a charmingly anarchic window sign decrying the snoot at a rival restaurant, Graydon Carter's increasingly notorious Ye Waverly Inn.

The sign reads, in part:
... (Carter's Waverly Inn) seating is restricted to an elite who get the hush hush, top secret reservation number. What a classic fatuous liberal. He preaches diversity but practices exclusion.
Tired: Blog posts
Wired: Angry butcher-paper scrawls taped to restaurant windows.

For the full image, click through to Gawker.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Blind waiters and pitch black dining rooms

Interesting story out of China: Dark restaurants, in which you order in the light and proceed to a pitch-black dining room to eat, where you are served by blind waiters.

I was tipped off to a story in the Shanghai Daily Jan 23, available for the moment via Google's cache. One of these dark restaurants opened in Beijing in late December, catering to young people and expatriates, and will soon open in Shanghai. The company behind them hopes to have 20 outlets throughout Asia by the end of next year.

The company's president said: "Eating in the darkness increases intimacy, which best embodies the slogan of the restaurant: A world without emotional distance."

Cell phones, watched and lighters are confiscated and guests are led to their tables by hosts wearing night vision goggles. But "the restaurant will recruit some blind servers in addition 10 ordinary staff," the story states, as in Beijing and other dark restaurants.

A sidebar, not online, claims the first "dark restaurant" opened in Zurich in 1999 by a blind priest who wanted to create jobs for the blind and help diners better understand their challenges.

I have created a "global restaurants" label for stories like this one and the Japanese authentic restaurant inspectors.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Japanese sushi police headed for San Francisco

The Japanese agriculture ministry is planning to start certifying "authentic" Japanese restaurants abroad as soon as this year.

Since fully half the 20,000 overseas Japanese restaurants are in the U.S. , Japanese culinary spies are certain to end up at some point in San Francisco, a pivotal front in America's war on proper sushi.

The Japanese are apparently alarmed at our various bastardizations, like the California roll and the Wal Mart sushi counter. More alarming still, 90 percent of our "Japanese" restaurants aren't even run by Japanese people or people of Japanese descent, the agriculture ministry points out -- though it remains to be seen if our Korean and Chinese sushi chefs fare any worse (or better!) than their Japanese colleagues.

The full situation report in the Financial Times Weekend adds:
Of course, the ministry made it clear that xenophobia is not the motive behind its authentic food-finding mission. But this has not stopped critics from lambasting the move as an act of hypocrisy. After all, Japan is a country that has in equal measure bastardised western cuisines to suit local palates. Will the Italian food polizia crack down on restaurants in Japan that serve spaghetti topped with mentaiko - spicy cod roe? Will the US culinary brigade outlaw fast food outlets that serve rice burgers?

Financial Times: Japan's 'sushi police' are on a roll (free)

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